Florida Property Insurance Watch: Appeals Court Issues Instructive Opinion in Statute of Limitations Case

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The statute of limitations is a critically important issue in any legal case. The last thing any plaintiff wants is to lose out on their legal rights, simply because their claim was not filed in time. This often comes up in Florida property insurance claims. Notably, the statute of limitations can sometimes be difficult to apply in this case. Recently, on May 10, 2017, this point was highlighted by the Third District Court of Appeal for the state of Florida, which reversed a lower court decision on a statute of limitations ruling in the case of Companion Property & Casualty Group v. Built Tops Building Services, Inc. Here, our experienced Broward County property insurance attorneys review this decision.

Analysis of the Case 

Background 

In November of 2006, Built Tops, a Miami-Dade County-based contractor, allegedly conducted faulty repairs on the roof of a condo building. On February 9, 2012, the building in question sustained approximately $31,000 in water damage. Companion Property, the condo’s insurance company, paid the claim to the building. On February 8, 2016, Companion Property then sought compensation from Built Tops, on the grounds that the company was responsible for the damages due to its negligent work.

The Lower Court Dismissed the Claim

After the claim was filed, Built Tops immediately moved to dismiss the claim on the grounds that the statute of limitations had already run out. However, there was a dispute regarding when exactly the clock would begin to run. Built Tops argued that the statute of limitations ran from the date of the faulty repairs (2006), which means that time to file a claim had long passed; whereas Companion Property argued that the clock started to run on the date of the injury (2012), which would mean that the company filed their claim just in time. The lower court ruled in favor of Built Tops, determining that the date of the actions (faulty repairs) was the relevant date, not the date of the injury.

Why the Appeals Court Reversed the Decision  

The appeals court, reviewing the language of the statute and earlier case law, decided that the ‘date of the damage’ is the proper starting point for the statute of limitations question. Indeed, the court made it clear that the statute of limitations clock does not begin until the date at which the plaintiff suffers actual losses or damages. This is an important ruling for property owners, as it helps to ensure that the Florida statute of limitations for property damage claims will not be narrowed in an unreasonable manner. In this case it was the insurance company seeking compensation from the contractor, but in many other cases the property owner is the party that must do so.

Was Your Fort Lauderdale Property Insurance Claim Denied?

The experienced property dispute attorneys at Geyer Fuxa Tyler are standing by, ready to help. To request a free, no-obligation review of your case, please call us today at (954) 990-5251. From our office in Sunrise, FL, we serve property owners throughout Broward County, including in Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach, Miramar and Hollywood.

Resource:

3dca.flcourts.org/Opinions/3D16-2044.pdf

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